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Meet Ireland's Paralympic team: The cyclists

We’ve taken a closer look at Team Ireland ahead of the Games.

THE 2016 PARALYMPIC Games is just around the corner with 4,500 athletes from all over the world ready to compete in Rio. Over the course of the next week, we’ll introduce the 48 members of Team Ireland…

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The cyclists

Eoghan Clifford 

Event: Road Race, Road Time Trial and Individual Track Pursuit
Classification:
C3
Age: 35
County: Galway

Eoghan Clifford heads to Rio for his first Paralympic Games on the back of incredible success. An engineering lecturer in NUIG, the 35-year-old recently won gold at the UCI Para Cycling Road World Cup in Spain and will certainly be a contender in Brazil.

Colin Lynch

Event: Road Race, Road Time Trial and Individual Track Pursuit 
Classification:
C2
Age:  45
County: Louth

After missing out on a medal in London by one tenth of a second, Colin Lynch has returned fitter and stronger for his second Paralympics. The 45-year-old has been in fine form this season having won silver in the 3km pursuit at the World Track Championships as well as a number of podium finishes in the World Cup race series.

Katie-George Dunlevy

Event: Road Race, Time Trial and Track Pursuit and B Kilo
Classification:
WB Tandem
Age: 34
County: Crawley (UK)

Katie-George Dunlevy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Along with her pilot Eve McCrystal, Katie-George Dunlevy has progressed hugely since London where she achieved a couple of fifth-place finishes. In the space of four years, the 34-year-old has emerged as one of the world’s elite, winning two golds at the World Cup and also finishing highly on the track.

Eve McCrystal (Pilot)

Event: Road Race, Time Trial and Track Pursuit and B Kilo
Age: 37
County: Louth

The mother of two is an able-bodied former triathlete who linked up with Katie-George in 2013. She is currently on temporary leave from her job as a Garda and certainly she and her partner will have high hopes at these Games.

Damien Vereker

Event: Road Race, Time Trial and Track Pursuit and B Kilo
Classification:
Tandem B
Age: 36
County: Kilkenny

The Comeragh Cycling Club member only took up the sport three years ago but has already achieved notable success after winning the Road Race at the World Cup in South Africa earlier this year. His coach, Martin Kirwan, was his original pilot but now he’s riding in tandem with Seán Hahessy.

Seán Hahessy (Pilot)

Event: Road Race, Time Trial and Track Pursuit and B Kilo
Age: 21
County: Tipperary

Seán Hahessy is a top able-bodied cyclist and has represented Ireland internationally. He was drafted into the Paralympic programme earlier this year and will ride with Damien Vereker in Rio. He is currently studying Sports Coaching and Performance in Waterford IT.

Peter Ryan

Event: Tandem Road Race and Time Trial
Classification:
Tandem B
Age: 26
County: Tipperary

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Peter Ryan is a former Tipperary minor hurler who was a late addition to Team Ireland following the expulsion of Russian athletes from the Games. The 2016 national champion has represented Ireland with distinction for a number of years.

Marcin Mizgajski (pilot)

Event: Tandem Road Race and Time Trial
Age: 34
County: Wexford

Marcin Mizgajski is Peter Ryan’s pilot and is a former Polish national champion. He now lives in New Ross.

Declan Slevin

Event: Handcycling Time Trial and Road Race 
Classification:
H3
Age: 47
County: Westmeath

inpho_01072375 Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Inspired by Mark Rohan, father of three Declan Slevin launched his handcycling career four years ago. Now, he’s preparing for his first Paralympics at the age of 47. Some fine results this year see him go into the Games currently ranked fourth in the world in H3 road racing.

Ciara Staunton

Event: Handcycling Time Trial and Road Race
Classification:
H2
Age: 31
County: Wicklow

Having previously represented Ireland at wheelchair basketball, Ciara Staunton is excelling on the bike. The Wicklow woman is a member of Kilcullen Cycling Club and will be competing in the time trial and road race in Rio.

Medal chances

Without expecting too much of Ireland’s cyclists in Rio, it’s probably fair to say there is potential for medals within this team. While many of them are competing at their first Games, there is no shortage of big event experience within the group and certainly many of them know what it feels like to step onto that podium. The decorated team includes former world champion Colin Lynch, multiple-world champion Eoghan Clifford and multiple medallists Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal.

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The Paralympic Games takes place between 7 and 18 September. Follow The42′s coverage from Rio here.

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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